Posts Tagged ‘upcycling’

To some, the concept of wearing clothes found in a box on the sidewalk may seem unthinkable – to San Francisco’s Haight Asubury neighborhood, it’s practically a way of life.  No matter where you fall on the hippie spectrum, though, you probably have some treasures hidden in the back of your closet that could use a good rescuing.

I found this sweater on down the street from my house a couple of weeks ago, and after a good washing and a little bit of planning, it’s ready for a makeover.  It would appear that someone had already tired of it once before, cutting the arms off (luckily, at the seams, so that the body of the sweater did not come un-knit) before tossing it completely.  It’s not the cost of the sweater that is the biggest waste — this cotton/acrylic H&M sweater probably cost its original owner very little, which is why it’s so easy to part with our unwanted clothes these days — but were it to have ended up in the trash instead of in some scavenger’s hands, it would be contributing to the millions of tons of textile waste we consumers generate each year.

I like the olive color that this sweater already has, so instead of dyeing it, I’m going to roll with the olive inspiration and give it a military feel with epaulettes and a cinched sash at the waist.

This is a good DIY project for beginners (or lazy folk like myself).  All it takes is a deserving sweater, cardigan, or t-shirt, a little bit of scrap fabric, and the most basic of sewing skills.  The patterns for both the epaulettes and sash are easy geometric shapes based on simple measurements, and can be tailored to your preferences.

For this project, I’ll be using some of this interior design fabric that was given to me.  The botanical print is unexpected for a military-inspired design, the colors complement the sweater, and (most importantly) I happened to have it lying around.  I’ll also be using some vintage buttons for the epaulettes, and maybe some seam binding or bias tape around the cut-off sleeves if they need a little cleaning up.  I will take step-by-step photos of the upcycling process for interested parties, and the final product will be thrown up on My Etsy for your shopping pleasure.


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One of the first rules of fashion merchandising and visual display is that in the 3-5 seconds that stores have to capture your attention, color is the first thing you pay attention to.  So, when you find yourself staring down an overflowing closet with “nothing to wear”, perhaps what you’re really feeling is the need for new color.  Unless you’re a time traveler or one of the few octogenarians in the online DIY community, you probably don’t remember the era of dyed-to-match fashion, but fear not!  There are plenty of ways to infuse your tired wardrobe with new color, whether you’re a vintage queen looking for the perfect slip and gloves to match your collection of 40’s chic day dresses, or a modern hipster, making offerings of tribal-inspired discharge dyed prints at the altar of American Apparel.

Armed with an array of sweet dyes (courtesy of Rit), I’ll be hosting an Upcycling Extravaganza chez moi on Sunday, June 27th (with the help of the Hootenanny craft circle, organized by my friend Renée).  If you’re in the Bay Area and would like to participate, shoot me an email and I’ll send you the address.  If you’re not local, but would like to participate, host your own dye-a-thon, and send in your photos!  I’ll throw ’em up here, and some may even end up on Rit’s Designer Profiles page.  In an effort to keep everything sustainable, I’m also taking donations of fabric, from once-loved t-shirts to yardage and sheets — let me know if you’ve got something to donate!

In the mean time, I’ll keep you posted with details as well as a sampling of dye methods and how to recreate each look at home.

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